Joanne Leow

Joanne Leow

Joanne Leow

Alumna, PhD (2015), English

“I am studying postcolonial and diasporic literatures.”

I am from Singapore and did my BA at Brown University in Rhode Island. I came to the University of Toronto to work with Professor Ato Quayson and to experience life in Toronto. I am studying English Literature — specifically postcolonial and diasporic literatures. My research focuses on how texts influence our conceptions of transnational cities.

The size of the Department of English has been extremely helpful because it means no matter where my research takes me, there is usually a professor who will be interested in that specialty or area. Secondly, the range of interests that my fellow graduate students have has made for extremely stimulating coursework and writing and reading groups. Lastly, a great deal of interdisciplinary work and thinking has been possible for me because of centres such as the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, the Jackman Humanities Institute, and the Munk School of Global Affairs.

I am also grateful to have the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship has helped me pursue my research interests without financial worries.

I hope to get a job in a Canadian university teaching postcolonial and diasporic Canadian literature. My children have really taken to Toronto so I would love it if I could stay in the Greater Toronto Area, but I am also open to moving to other places in Canada.

I think the most important step in applying for a PhD is to find at least one or two professors who you definitely want to work with. Spending time with fellow graduates and listening to their experiences is also helpful. Personally, I spent many years in a different industry and when the opportunity presented itself, I realized that I wanted to spend at least part of my life doing something that I loved unconditionally.